Football and EU state aid law: How state aid law shapes the relationship between public authorities and football clubs - Some observations on the Commission decisions of 4 July 2016

Football and EU state aid law: How state aid law shapes the relationship between public authorities and football clubs - Some observations on the Commission decisions of 4 July 2016

On 4 July 2016, the European Commission rendered eight state aid decisions which illustrate the (increasing) importance of EU state aid law for the sports industry in general and football in particular. Some of these decisions, especially the ones concerning famous clubs such as Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, have been widely reported in the mainstream and sports press. This article will describe and explore some critical aspects of these decisions, while putting them into a larger state aid law perspective.

The July 2016 football state aid decisions

In separate decisions, all of the same date (4 July 2016), the European Commission (EC) closed the formal investigations in eight state aid proceedings (“July 2016 football state aid decisions”). In these proceedings the Commission examined whether certain football clubs have benefitted from incompatible state aid. The decisions concern five Dutch football clubs: (NEC[1], Den Bosch[2], PSV[3], MVV[4] and Willem II